Tag Archives: is consciousness real

Birth and Death: Paradoxical Bookends of the Absolute Self (Part Two)

Death is an action without a consequence; birth is a consequence without an action. What I mean by this is that in both cases, birth and death, the relationship between cause and effect is irrationally severed. It is said that you are born, but if we define the birth of you as your “coming into being”, then the question is how can one be born if one does not exist in the first place? How can you experience birth if birth is the fundamental beginning? There is no YOU to be born prior to your birth, and so the consequence is birth but there is no action which involves you at all. The action which is entirely mutually exclusive of you somehow concludes with you. Frankly, this makes no sense at all. I don’t care how you twist it or what mathematical, evolutionary, determinist magic you try to invoke to square the infinite circle.

And death is like birth except that in this case, the action is of you but the conclusion is entirely absent you. You die, but since death represents the oblivion of you—the complete absence of you—then the consequence of dying has absolutely nothing to do with you at all. You could not have experienced your death, since to experience something you must exist—existence is a prerequisite to experience. This is axiomatic. Further, how do we make any claims about you once you have died? If we define death as the categorical absence of you, or the non-existence of you, then who exactly are we talking about when we speak the life one lived prior to death? If death represents the utter non-existence of one who once lived, then there is no longer any ONE upon which to hang the life which is said to have been lived. We cannot speak of so and so doing this, or so and so doing that if, so and so is entirely nonexistent. But if we insist that so and so did actually do this or that even though so and so doesn’t exist, then we concede implicitly that existence itself is transitory. Existence is not fundamental, but is itself, merely a mist which fades. Existence then cannot be trusted to be objective, and thus any arguments to the objective and empirical nature of reality and truth collapse.

There are a few ways that reconciliation of these contradictions is attempted, and all of them fail the test of rational consistency. One is to deny the existence of YOU qua YOU entirely…to insist that the Conscious Self is purely illusory; a hiccup of the otherwise perfect and perfectly determined mathematical, perpetual cosmic evolution. This rank nonsense was debunked in part one of this article series.

Another explanation is that death is in fact an illusion; that you transition to an after life, as the Christians or Jews or Muslims claim. The problem here is that Christianity makes no such claim about birth, and as far as I know neither does Judaism or Islam. Yet we cannot claim that death is merely a transition but birth is absolute, for both are the exact same relationship between being and non-being. You see, if death is merely a transition into an alternate state of existence, then so must be birth. For going from nothing to something is no more rational than going from something to nothing. In other words, if man does not go from absolute being (life) to absolute non-being (death) then he likewise does not go from absolute non-being to absolute being. If there is a life after death then there must concordantly be a life before birth.

The reality is that only when we accept that the Conscious Self is a constant—that the position of the Observer is to be the reference for an otherwise infinitely relative reality—does one’s existence as a conscious being begin to make sense. It is a hard truth to swallow, for it runs contrary to all popular religion and philosophy, which accept either death, or both death and life, as infinite and absolute bookends to a purely transitory existence as One who is utterly aware of himself, his environment, and possesses the capacity to conceptualize both, as well as the relationship between them, and from that prescribe definitions, and from these meaning, and from meaning, truth, and from truth, morality. But One who is so absolute as this cannot also be rendered subjective and finite via birth and death as they are commonly understood.


The Objectivist/Empricist Confusion Between Perception and Interpretation

I get it.  I really do.  Of course we want to be sure that reality can be objectively defined…that it is not open to whimsical opinion about its nature and operation; that there is an absolutely objective essence to it, because this is quite clearly necessary to the formulation of truth.  And truth is to man what divides life from death, both physically and spritually.

What I don’t get is the relentless devotion so many otherwise brilliant men and women have to ideas about the nature of reality and how that nature is accessed and described which are so clearly irrational.  I don’t understand how it is felt that the key to objective reality is appealing to subjectivity.  That is, appealing to a rejection of the ONLY thing which can render an objective definition of anything:  human consciousness.

I will tell you what I mean.

The other day I heard an Objectivist on YouTube explain that the key to epistemology (truth) was understanding and accepting that reality existed separately from man’s perception of it.  Now, this sounds similar to the way other Objectivists I have heard and known explain it, and I assume that this person would certainly know, given his (apparent) depth of knowledge on the subject.  I, myself, am no expert on the intricases of Objectivism so I will accept that this is an accurate distillation of its metaphysics.

In my mind I stammer.  I am uncertain as to how to reply to such a facile and, no insult intended, imbecilic description of reality relative to man’s consciousness.  It’s like when your six year-old angrily asks why she cannot stay up late like mommy and daddy do.  If mommy and daddy can stay up late then why can’t she?  And you just stare at her stupidly and blinking for a few moments as your mind searches through its collection of arguments and finds that it possesses no readily available resource to deal with a question so infinitely obvious.  You would no more expect to be asked a question that stupid as you would to be asked how to drink a glass of water.

And that is how I felt when I heard that objectively understanding reality was to make a distinction between it and one’s perception.  It punched me in the face with its arrant nonsense, and yet the conviction and, er…the forgone conclusion-ness with which it was spoke froze my brain.  Immediately I knew it was madness, but it took me a few moments to manufacture a response in my mind.  Ask me how to drink a glass of water, and I promise I will look at you as though I’M the total idiot for a minute.

Reality is independent of one’s perception of reality?  I mean, as though that were somehow possible, even though the very fact that we are naturally self-aware means that a frame of reference for such a distinction cannot be had.  For if one’s perception is exclusive of reality, as is implied, then “perception of reality” is a contradiction in terms.  If perception isn’t real, then it doesn’t exist to perceive anything, including reality. So the notion of a distinction between perception and reality is ludicrous, especially when it is ALREADY implicitly conceded that perceiving reality IS REAL.

So, what are we dealing with here?  Well, clearly this is an attack on consciousness.  We all undersand that perception qua perception is nothing.  To perceive something, to sense it, yet to be unaware of it, is utterly redundant.  Perception itself thus must mean consciousness.  The efficacy of perception is awareness, period.  We all know this.  And from consciousness we get interpretation, and this is what the whole thing is all about. The fear of subjectively interpreting reality is what leads objectivists and empiricists to declare that reality is not actually open to interpretation.  (This is ironic in that Christians do the same thing with the Bible.)  It simply is.  It’s prima facie.  It’s de facto.  It is what it is and it does what it does.  And I understand the fear…of course we need reality to be objective.  To let everyone define reality as they choose is to make truth itself subjective, which makes it impossible for truth to ever actually be true.  And history has shown us, most recently in the form Marxist political revolution, that such ideology does nothing but turn mass murder into a virtue, and makes monsters of all men.  But you cannot protect reality by making a boogey man out of consciousness.  Consciousness is nothing more than man’s natural ability to conceptualize his environment; to make a conceptual distinction between “Self” and “Not Self”, and to act in service to Self as such an ability necessarily implies.  This is the root of man’s very identity…it is WHO HE IS.  To banish consciousness in the name of “Objective Reality” to the realm of absolute illusion is to strip from man everything that makes him what he is.  To claim that consciousness is subjective and reality objective is to dig an impassable chasm between man and his existence, which necessarily destroys man.  Thus, the Objectivist/Empiricist solution it seems is to eliminate humanity in the interest of protecting reality.  But then, who shall be left to declare the victory?  If there is no one left to experience reality, then is reality actually real?  If there is no one left to know anything objective, then is there really anything objective to know?

The fact is that whether we like it or not reality IS indeed subject to interpretation.  Man’s ONLY means of ascertaining truth is through his consciousness…his powers of conceptualization.  He pairs concepts to create meaning, and from this we get language, and language is how reality is declared as BEING REAL in the first place.  Period.  Reality and man’s ability to describe it through conceptualization, which is the foundation of consciousness, are utterly inseparable.  In order to perceive reality, you see, perception MUST BE REAL.

The only way then to arrive at an objective definition of reality is to make sure that its interpretation is rationally consistent…that is, organized and described via concepts (in language) that do not contradict.  The difference between objective and subjective reality is not perception, but IS INDEED INTERPRETATION.  Having the right—that is, absolutely reasonable—interpretation is what makes reality objective, not disparaging consciousness as a mere fluke of natural law (i.e. scientific determinism, which is a nonsense rooted in a philosophy that predates the nonsense of most of the religions it pretends to depose).

You show me a rationally consistent, non-abstract (i.e. non-mathematical) description of reality and I will give you a mirror and show you what a TRUE Objectivist looks like.  A true Objectivist uses his consciousness OBJECTIVELY—that is, rationally—he does not pretend it is a figment.  After all, a seeker of the truth doesn’t throw away the only tool by which the truth is found.